I’ve been going to schools and talking about the dangers of bullying for nearly 5 years now. Over that span of time, I keep hearing the same thing… mostly from parents. Many of them telling me, “my child is being bullied and I don’t know what to do.” Or they tell me, “I’ve contacted the school and no one is doing anything.” I have no way knowing the exact truth, but the best way to approach any bullying incident is to arm yourself with the facts and do your homework. I am NOT an anti-bullying expert. I do NOT have all the answers, but I am doing what I can to first educate our youth about the dangers of bullying and more importantly what they should do if and when they’re bullied. That same message needs to apply to parents. You need to know the facts. So hopefully this article will help.
For starters… do your homework and become familiar with your school district’s anti-bullying policies. Go to the school district website or the school handbook. Read it from back to front. All schools are required by law to have an anti-bullying policy. Everything is spelled out for you along with instructions on what to do. That should be your first stop.
Second, you need to have a heart to heart conversation with your child. Gather all the facts you can about the incident(s). Have them explain what happened to you more than once. As most parents know, the truth doesn’t always surface the first time a conversation is held. Once you do that, contact your child’s teacher directly and set up an appointment to talk to them. They may have additional information about the incident(s) or they may be completely unaware that its happening. Don’t assume anything. Keep in mind, they have a lot on their plates and are dealing with a lot of kids.
In order for an investigation to be launched, a report must be filed with the teacher, a counselor of the principal. State law requires them to conduct an investigation. So, make sure you file a report and don’t rely on your child to do it on their own. That puts a lot of pressure on them and many kids are afraid to do it. But it must be done. The incident must be documented according to state law. Once it is reported, follow-up with the school principal with questions you need answered. One that comes to mind is what will the school do to make sure my child is safe? Also, make sure you request copies of each reported incident for your records. You’ll be glad you did.
The ACLU of Arkansas has a great resource of what else you can do — when and if — your child is being bullied. It also spells out what to do if you’re not satisfied with the outcome conducted by teachers and administrators. I’ve provided the link for you and would encourage you to read it in its entirety (see link below).
Bottom line is this. Children are being bullied, but you have the power to put an end to it. Educate yourself and your child about the dangers of physical, verbal and cyber-bullying. Have daily conversations with them. Ask them hard questions that demand explanations as opposed to a “yes” or “no” response. Talk with their teachers on a routine basis. Get engaged at school and with your child’s friends. Most of this is common sense stuff, but in today’s day and age it’s easy to forget or get busy handling everything else.
Please do you part and I will continue to do mine by going to these schools and hopefully making an impact.
If you want my “Step Up, Stop Bullying” program to come to your school click on the link below and fill out the request form.
ACLU of Arkansas: Know Your Rights! Student Bullying in Arkansas Public Schools: